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Finding Aid for the Edward Williams Morley Family Papers 1828-1922
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Letters primarily to the nineteenth-century American chemist Edward Williams Morley, and letters to and from other members of his family including his parents and siblings, also including an important collection of Civil War letters, in addition to miscellaneous historical documents, form the collection titled the Edward Williams Morley Family Papers in the Archives of the California Institute of Technology. Edward Morley is best known for his collaboration with Albert A. Michelson on the ether-drift experiment (the Michelson-Morley experiment). Morley also conducted important experiments on atomic weights and other constants of nature.
Edward Williams Morley was born on 29 January 1838 in Newark, New Jersey, the eldest child of Sardis Brewster Morley, a Congregational minister, and Anna Clarissa Treat. Morley attended Williams College in Williamstown, Massachusetts (B.A., 1860), and entered Andover Theological Seminary in 1861. He continued his theological course concurrently with his studies in chemistry and physics, receiving a master's degree from Williams in 1863 and his license as a Congregational minister in 1864. His first teaching position was at South Berkshire Academy in New Marlboro, Massachusetts, where he became acquainted with Isabella (Belle) Ashley Birdsall; the two were married in December 1868. During the Civil War, Edward Morley served with a relief agency, the U.S. Sanitary Commission, in Fort Monroe, Virginia, assisting convalescent soldiers. His two younger brothers, Frank and John, both fought with the Union army. In 1868 Edward accepted a call to the ministry in Twinsburg, Ohio, but it soon became evident that he preferred teaching to preaching. He assumed teaching duties at nearby Western Reserve College, and when the college moved to Cleveland in 1882, Morley was named to the chair of chemistry and natural history. He also held a professorship in chemistry and toxicology at the Cleveland Medical School. Morley retired to West Hartford, Connecticut, in 1906 where he lived until his death in 1923. He and his wife had no children.
4.5 linear feet
Copyright may not have been assigned to the California Institute of Technology Archives. All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Caltech Archivist. Permission for publication is given on behalf of the California Institute of Technology Archives as the owner of the physical items and, unless explicitly stated otherwise, is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must also be obtained by the reader.
The collection is open for research. Researchers must apply in writing for access.